Travel news live: Green list of safe countries to be announced as foreign holiday rules ease

Could UK travellers be given Covid screening tests to use abroad?

Holiday-makers will finally learn which destinations they can visit this summer without having to quarantine for coronavirus upon return to the UK, when the government publishes its travel “green list” today.

The new traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red, is expected to have a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, listed as travel locations which do not require self-isolation on return.

Assessments for the list will be based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

It came as concern rose over the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant in the UK after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

The Covid variant is likely to be elevated to a “variant of concern” as cases have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands – largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.


Deaths in England and Wales up 14 per cent in 2020, ONS says

The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in 2020 was 14.3 per cent above the average for the previous five years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed.

A total of 607,922 deaths were registered, compared with an average of 532,077 in 2015-19 – meaning there were 75,845 extra deaths, or “excess deaths”.

The ONS said Covid-19 was responsible for 97 per cent of these excess deaths.

Deaths in private homes in England and Wales, from all causes, were also one-third higher in 2020 than in the previous five years, according to ONS data.

The majority of deaths due to Covid-19 occurred in hospitals and care homes, while many deaths from other causes, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, happened in private homes.

The ONS added that many of these deaths at home were people who may have typically died elsewhere, such as in hospital, in normal times.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:30


Indian variant ‘possibly as transmissible’ as Kent variant, expert says

High numbers of cases of the Indian variant around the world suggest it could be as transmissible as the Kent variant that fuelled the UK’s second wave of Covid-19 last year, an expert has said.

Jeff Barrett, director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute Covid-19 Genomics Initiative, said the high case numbers for the variant were “consistent with this one being more transmissible than older versions of the virus from last year”.

“[It’s] possibly as transmissible as the B.117 Kent variant that is very widespread in the UK,” Mr Barrett told the BBC.

However, he added that there had been reassuring evidence from real-world studies on the effectiveness of vaccines against the South African and Brazilian variants of Covid-19.

“That paints a relatively positive picture that the vaccines are going to continue to have efficacy,” he said.

“So obviously for new variants like this one, we need to do additional experiments and really get the solid proof one way or the other about that”.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:16


Get the latest updates from Simon Calder’s Travel Week

You can find a preview below of our travel correspondent Simon Calder’s weekly newsletter rounding up the latest developments for holiday-makers as the UK moves out of lockdown restrictions.

For the latest edition of the newsletter follow the link here.

To get Simon’s updates every week, you can sign up through The Independent’s newsletter service by clicking the link here.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 10:06


Australia to lift ban on citizens returning from India next week, PM says

Australia will lift a ban on its citizens returning from India next week after heavy criticism from lawmakers, expatriates and the Indian diaspora.

The country’s prime minister Scott Morrison said he stood by his decision, arguing that the travel ban, which was backed by jail terms and financial penalties for those who attempted to fly via a third country, had prevented hotel quarantine systems from being overwhelmed.

“The order that we have put in place has been highly effective, it€’s doing the job that we needed it to do, and that was to ensure that we could do everything we can to prevent a third wave of Covid-19 here in Australia,” Mr€ Morrison told reporters.

Australia will charter three repatriation flights between 15 May and 31 May, prioritising about 900 people deemed most vulnerable, he added.

The government estimates about 9,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents are in India.

Prospective travellers will need to return a negative Covid-19 test and will be required to undertake the standard 14-day hotel quarantine imposed on incoming travellers.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:47


‘Be ambitious’ on travel corridors to revive industry, BA owner says

The UK government should act with “ambition” and announce travel corridors as soon as possible to help to revive the aviation industry, the boss of British Airways owner IAG has said.

“We consider now is the time to start travelling again,” chief executive Luis Gallego said on Friday.

“We believe that the government needs to be a bit ambitious in getting global travel back on track and bring the benefits of all the efforts that the government and people have done with the vaccination rollout.

“I think they need to recognise that people who are vaccinated or have been tested can travel without restrictions.”

His comments came as the business revealed it had continued to rack up huge losses during the first three months of 2021, with the firm sinking to a pre-tax loss of 1.22 billion euros (£1.1bn).

Passenger numbers also remained at record low levels due to the pandemic, at just 19.6 per cent of the pre-Covid levels in 2019.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:35


Scottish students now able to access rapid coronavirus tests

Students and staff in Scotland are now able to access rapid coronavirus testing through their local college, with more than 100,000 lateral flow testing kits distributed to help detect cases of Covid-19 in people with no symptoms.

Authorities are urging people to take part in voluntary testing twice a week using the at-home kits.

“The college testing programme is voluntary, and I encourage all eligible staff and students to take part regularly to help protect themselves, and keep their friends, families and colleges safe,” Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said.

“Around one in three people with Covid-19 do not have symptoms. Rapid lateral flow testing helps to find cases in people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious and can transmit the virus to others.

“These easy-to-use, at-home kits offer extra reassurance so it’s important that students continue to make use of them regularly as restrictions are lifted.”

The Scottish government recommends two tests are taken each week, ideally three days apart.

A limited number of students are currently allowed on to college campuses at any one time in line with current public health guidance, with safety measures such as social distancing in place.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:15


Our expert Simon Calder has given his advice below on how to manage foreign travel ahead of the release of the holiday “green list” later today:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 09:03


Call for changes to vaccination bookings as pregnant women unable to find jab

Pregnant women are struggling to access Covid-19 vaccinations nearly three weeks after the government made them eligible for the jab, sparking calls for changes to the official booking system.

Official guidelines say they should be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines if possible, but the NHS National Booking Service says it does not have any information on how these can be accessed.

Our Whitehall editor, Kate Devlin, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:48


Concern rises over Indian variant as ‘clusters of cases’ found in England

The coronavirus variant first detected in India is likely to become a “variant of concern” this week after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

Cases of the variant are thought to have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands, largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

This change would spark an escalation in response from Public Health England (PHE), with surge testing being used to clamp down on cases of the variant (known as B1617.2).

There are three related variants first seen in India which have been detected in the UK and designated “under investigation” by PHE – B1617.2, B1617.1 and B1617.3.

According to internal documents from PHE, dated to 5 May and seen by The Guardian, the ongoing risk to public health from the variant subtype B1617.2 is “high”.

However, early data suggests that it does not fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:39


Under-40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca jab over increased blood clot risk

People under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as evidence showing younger people are more likely to be affected by rare blood clots linked to the jab has grown, The Independent can reveal.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to recommend raising the age threshold for offering a different jab from under-30s to under-40s following further reports of rare clots last week.

Our science correspondent, Samuel Lovett, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:30

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Covid travel news live: ‘Green list’ to be announced as concerns rise over Indian variant

Could UK travellers be given Covid screening tests to use abroad?

Holiday-makers will finally learn which destinations they can visit this summer without having to quarantine for coronavirus upon return to the UK, when the government publishes its travel “green list” today.

The new traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red, is expected to have a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, listed as travel locations which do not require self-isolation on return.

Assessments for the list will be based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

It came as concern rose over the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant in the UK after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

The Covid variant is likely to be elevated to a “variant of concern” as cases have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands – largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.


Concern rises over Indian variant as ‘clusters of cases’ found in England

The coronavirus variant first detected in India is likely to become a “variant of concern” this week after clusters were found in several areas of England, according to reports.

Cases of the variant are thought to have been found in schools, care homes and places of worship in the North West, London and the East Midlands, largely linked to travel.

It is thought it will be declared a “variant of concern” on Friday, although cases remain relatively low.

This change would spark an escalation in response from Public Health England (PHE), with surge testing being used to clamp down on cases of the variant (known as B1617.2).

There are three related variants first seen in India which have been detected in the UK and designated “under investigation” by PHE – B1617.2, B1617.1 and B1617.3.

According to internal documents from PHE, dated to 5 May and seen by The Guardian, the ongoing risk to public health from the variant subtype B1617.2 is “high”.

However, early data suggests that it does not fully evade the effectiveness of vaccines.

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:39


Under-40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca jab over increased blood clot risk

People under the age of 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as evidence showing younger people are more likely to be affected by rare blood clots linked to the jab has grown, The Independent can reveal.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to recommend raising the age threshold for offering a different jab from under-30s to under-40s following further reports of rare clots last week.

Our science correspondent, Samuel Lovett, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:30


Holiday-makers to learn where they can travel this summer without quarantine

Holiday-makers in England will learn later today which destinations they can visit this summer without needing to quarantine for Covid-19 when they return to the UK.

The government’s new travel rules will be based on a traffic light system, with destinations rated green, amber or red based on a range of factors, such as the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection and emerging new variants.

People arriving from a green location will not need to quarantine on their return and will have to take one post-arrival test, while those returning from an amber list country must self-isolate for at least five days and take two tests.

The red list requires an 11-night stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

It is expected that only a few countries, such as Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal and Malta, will make it on to the “green list” and avoid quarantine requirements.

However, no plans for the resumption of foreign holidays have been announced by the UK’s devolved administrations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps


Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 08:12


Indian states say international Covid aid not reaching those in need

Several Indian states have claimed that they have not received any information about consignments of Covid-19 relief material, such as oxygen cylinders and concentrators.

The country has so far received aid from almost a dozen countries, including the US and the UK, to help with its deadly second wave.

Our reporters, Adam Withnall and Stuti Mishra, have the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 May 2021 07:41


Court orders Indian government to supply oxygen to Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday told the central government that it has to supply 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen to the national capital Delhi daily till further orders.

Several hospitals in Delhi have been grappling with a shortage of medical oxygen and sent SOS messages in recent weeks.

The city government had said it was getting roughly half the quantity of oxygen it has been officially allocated, according to NDTV. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said his administration “won’t let anyone die” of oxygen shortage if it got the earmarked 700 tonnes supply every day.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 07:26


India to get another batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines

Russia is sending 150,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines to India in the next two days. Another three million doses are expected to land in Hyderabad by the end of May.

The first consignment of the Sputnik V vaccine landed in Hyderabad on 1 May.

Meanwhile, the developers of Sputnik Light Covid-19 vaccine — the single shot version of Sputnik V — said India will be among the countries where the vaccine will be produced in the coming months, according to Hindustan Times.

India has administered at least 157 million vaccine doses, but its rate of inoculation has fallen in recent days, according to a Reuters analysis.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 07:23


Australia to start repatriation flights from India for vulnerable citizens

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the country will charter three repatriation flights between 15 May and 31 May, prioritising around 900 people deemed the most in need.

Mr Morrison’s government had imposed a temporary ban on its citizens returning home from India, which has been hit by a deadly second wave of the virus. Defending the ban, Mr Morrison had said it was necessary to protect the country from a third wave of coronavirus.

A group of Australian cricket players from the Indian Premier League left the country for the Maldives on Thursday after the competition was suspended, while their fellow sportsmen from other nations were largely able to return home.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 06:38


Covid-triggered black fungus cases in Delhi hospital

Doctors at a hospital in the national capital Delhi have said they are witnessing a rise in the number of Covid-triggered black fungus, or mucormycisis, cases.

Dr Manish Munjal, ENT surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, told news agency Press Trust of India that they have admitted six cases of mucormycisis in the last two days. He said the infection caused a high mortality last year.

Dr Ajay Swaroop from the hospital said one of the reasons behind the increase in such cases can be the use of steroids in the treatment of Covid-19 coupled with the fact that many coronavirus patients have diabetes, according to PTI.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 06:12


What happens to children who lose their parents to the virus?

With India pounded by a second wave of the virus that appears to be increasingly affecting young people, there is a growing awareness of the haunting phenomenon of the “Covid orphan”, with activists, NGOs, and child rights workers fielding a deluge of calls every day about new cases.

These are calls for help for children whose lives will never be the same, even after this wave is over and the world for most people returns to normal.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights says that so far there have been 11 confirmed cases where a child has lost either one parent or both to Covid, and the number is increasing with each passing day.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 05:52


Record rise in India’s Covid-19 cases

India reported a record daily rise in Covid-19 cases of 414,188 in the 24 hours ending Friday morning, while deaths rose by 3,915, according to health ministry data.

The country has added 1.57 million cases and nearly 15,000 deaths this week alone, as the second wave of the pandemic continues to overwhelm its healthcare system.

Total infections have crossed 21 million, while total fatalities have reached 234,083. These numbers are widely viewed as an under-statement given chronic issues with under-reporting of cases in India.

Akshita Jain7 May 2021 05:27

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Covid-19 Live Updates: India, Vaccines and Cases

A vaccination center at a school in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
Credit…Tauseef Mustafa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As India recorded a single-day high in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its vaccination campaign has been marred by shortages and states are competing against one another to get doses, limiting the government’s hope that the country can soon emerge from a devastating outbreak.

The Indian health ministry recorded about 410,000 cases in 24 hours, a new global high, and 3,980 deaths, the highest daily death toll in any country outside the United States. Experts believe the number of actual infections and deaths is much higher.

A second wave of infections exploded last month, and some Indian states reintroduced partial lockdowns, but daily vaccination numbers have fallen. The government said it had administered nearly two million vaccine doses on Thursday, far lower than the 3.5 million doses a day it reached in March. Over the past week, 1.6 million people on average were vaccinated daily in the country of 1.4 billion.

India’s pace of vaccinations has become a source of global concern as its outbreak devastates the nation and spreads into neighboring countries, and as a variant first identified there begins to be found around the world. The outbreak has prompted India to keep vaccine doses produced by its large drug manufacturing industry at home instead of exporting them, slowing down vaccination campaigns elsewhere.

In an effort to make doses more widely available within India, the authorities have allowed states and private health care providers to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers. But that has left state governments competing with one another for doses, and experts say it has added more troubles to a sluggish rollout. The authorities in Delhi, the capital, and several states have said they had to delay the expansion of vaccine access to younger age groups because of shortages.

India also lacks enough doses to meet the growing demand. Two domestic drug companies — the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech, which is making its own vaccine — are producing fewer than 100 million doses per month.

About 3 percent of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 9.2 percent of people have received at least one dose. Experts say that at the current rate the country is unlikely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of inoculating 300 million people by August.

India has recorded 20.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 226,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

India’s government has said it will fast-track approvals of foreign-made vaccines, and on Wednesday the Biden administration said it would support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to increase supplies for lower-income countries.

But a waiver would need to win unanimous support at the World Trade Organization — and even then, experts say, India’s drug companies would need extensive technological and other support to produced doses.

“The drop in I.P. protections is only one element,” Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India, said of intellectual property. Because of the additional steps required to begin making a vaccine on a huge scale, he said, “it is not going to mean increased access to vaccines in the near future.”

As Mr. Modi has declined to impose a nationwide lockdown like the one he brought in last year, states have adopted their own measures. On Thursday, the southern state of Kerala, which has one of the highest caseloads, announced a near-total lockdown until May 16.

Experts also worry that a crisis may be unfolding in India’s rural areas, where testing capacities are even more limited.

“My main concern is nonavailability of testing and the logistics of not getting people tested in rural areas,” said Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in northern India. “So we will never get the real numbers for either infection rates or deaths from many such quarters of India.”

The U.S. State Department has approved the departure of family members of U.S. government employees in India and is urging American citizens to take advantage of commercial flights out of the country. It said on Wednesday that it would approve the voluntary departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka became the latest country to bar travelers from India, joining the United States, Britain, Australia and others.

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

The European Union is considering whether to follow the Biden administration’s decision to support a waiver of patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines as many poor and middle-income nations struggle to secure lifesaving doses.

The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, stopped short of outright supporting President Biden in a speech on Thursday morning, but said the European Union was “also ready to discuss any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner.”

“That is why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines could help achieve that objective,” she said, speaking at the Florence European University Institute.

The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some intellectual property protections, a move that could allow drugmakers access to the trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made. But President Biden had come under increasing pressure to support the proposal, which was drafted by India and South Africa.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Thursday that he welcomed the Biden administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, but that the short-term priority was to donate existing doses to poorer countries rather than helping them produce the vaccines themselves.

“You can transfer the intellectual property to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Africa,” he said while visiting a vaccination center in southern Paris, but “they don’t have the platforms to produce mRNA vaccines.”

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines and has so far opposed activism at the W.T.O. level to recognize the pandemic as a huge emergency and remove protections on the vaccines. Doing so would allow them to ultimately be produced in larger volumes by manufacturers around the world.

Shares of some pharmaceutical companies fell on Wednesday after Mr. Biden’s announcement and continued dropping on Thursday. BioNTech shares in Germany were down about 15 percent since news of the administration’s decision. Novavax, which fell 5 percent Wednesday, fell another 3 percent in premarket trading on Wall Street.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City last month.
Credit…Richard Drew/Associated Press

New York City is launching a new program to provide funding to artists for public works, an effort to lend financial support to artists whose income plummeted during the pandemic and who have clamored for government relief, officials announced on Thursday.

The program, the City Artist Corps, will give money to artists, musicians and other performers to create works across the city, whether through public art, performances, pop-up shows, murals or other community arts projects.

Gonzalo Casals, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, said the initiative would help ensure that artists were not left out of the city’s recovery from the pandemic.

“We want to make sure that we put funds in the pocket of artists,” Mr. Casals said in an interview. “Artists have been one of the hardest-hit populations. They have so much to offer and so much give.”

Officials said the city will spend $25 million on the program, which is expected to create jobs for more than 1,500 artists in New York City.

The effort marks a significant investment for the arts in the city. The National Endowment for the Arts, an art-funding agency that serves the entire country, has a budget this year of about $162 million.

New York’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene was devastated by the pandemic. Performing-arts venues were forced to close when the city shut down, projects were canceled and budgets were decimated.

A report from the state comptroller’s office found that employment in the city’s arts, entertainment and recreation sector fell 66 percent in 2020.

Because many independent artists work on a project-by-project basis, that figure probably understates the full economic effects. A survey by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization, found that 95 percent of artists had lost income during the pandemic.

The city has already established several initiatives meant to help bolster the struggling arts community, including a program to allow outdoor performances on designated city streets. It also introduced dedicated webinars and counseling for businesses and nonprofit groups connected in some way to live performances.

Mr. Casals said that he and other officials also wanted to assist independent artists who were unconnected to larger institutions and might have been left out of previous city, state and federal programs.

At a news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio compared the new program to the Federal Art Project, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression.

That program, part of the Works Progress Administration, provided struggling artists with paychecks from the government to help them make a living. The money supported artists like Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky and Lee Krasner, who would become central to American painting in the decades to come.

Mr. Casals said New York had not fully decided on the details of how it would distribute money, or how artists could qualify for the City Artist Corps. But officials hoped to have some art works on display for the public by July 1, the target date Mr. de Blasio has set for the full reopening of New York City.

“We want to make sure that this summer, New Yorkers, wherever they go, they encounter this,” Mr. Casals said.

Getting a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Aberdeen, Md., on Wednesday. 
Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Several new studies released on Wednesday offered encouraging news about the ability of widely used vaccines to protect against severe Covid-19 cases, including illness caused by some dangerous variants.

Two published studies found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was extraordinarily effective against severe disease caused by two variants, including the dominant one in the United States. And the results of an early-stage trial of the Moderna vaccine — though not published or vetted by scientists — suggested that a single dose given as a booster was effective against variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil, the company said.

The emergence of new variants, and whether vaccines are effective against them, is a subject of continued concern as a variant first detected in India, called B.1.617, spreads across the country. There is also a risk that further variants will arise there as the country’s outbreak grows, experts say. Another worrisome variant, P.1, is wreaking havoc across South America.

In the Pfizer studies, which were based on real-world use of the vaccine in Qatar and Israel, the two variants of focus were B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain and now detected in over 100 countries, and B.1.351, first identified in South Africa. The studies showed that the vaccine can prevent some of the most severe outcomes from Covid-19, such as pneumonia and death, caused by those variants.

“At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” said Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, a researcher in infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

One of the Pfizer studies showed that the vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.1.7 among people who were at least two weeks past their second shot. It was 72.1 percent to 75 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.351. The study was based on information about more than 200,000 people that was pulled from Qatar’s national Covid-19 databases from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Another study, conducted by researchers at Pfizer and at Israel’s Health Ministry, found that the vaccine was more than 95 percent effective at protecting against a coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death among fully vaccinated people 16 and older.

In the United States, experts now believe that attaining herd immunity is unlikely because of the spread of variants and hesitancy among some people in the country to be vaccinated. The variant that has caused the most alarm is B.1.1.7, which is about 60 percent more transmissible than original versions of the virus.

Moderna’s announcement was greeted cautiously, because the results of an early-stage trial have not been published or peer-reviewed. But the company said it was encouraged by results that suggested that a single booster shot of its vaccine would rapidly increase antibodies in vaccinated people, and that those antibodies were effective against the original form of the virus as well as the variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil.

A second booster specifically designed to counter the variant identified in South Africa produced an even stronger immune response, the company said.

A follower of the popular Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr holding a picture of him while receiving a dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Credit…Hadi Mizban/Associated Press

When Iraqi film stars and political leaders posted videos of themselves getting Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to encourage inoculations, most Iraqis ignored them. But officials say that the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s decision to bare his upper arm for a shot last week has persuaded thousands to follow his example.

Iraq received its first coronavirus vaccine shipment in March, but Iraqis wary of any government initiative have been reluctant to sign up. Just over 400,000 people have been vaccinated — about 1 percent of the country’s population of roughly 40 million. Iraq has received about 600,000 vaccine doses.

Mr. Sadr, who commands millions of followers, was shown on video from the city of Najaf at a vaccination clinic, wearing a surgical mask and his black turban. He rolled down the right sleeve of his robe and undershirt to bare his upper arm for the jab.

Health officials said the video had encouraged thousands of people to go to vaccination centers, many of them in southern Iraq, where Mr. Sadr has strong support. In Najaf, a few hundred vaccinations a day were being administered throughout the province before this week. That number rose to almost 2,000 shots on Monday, and the province started running out of doses on Tuesday.

Some who showed up at vaccination clinics in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad held framed photos of the cleric.

Iraq has recorded more than one million coronavirus cases and 15,640 deaths. Many Iraqis have avoided the vaccines amid widespread and unproven rumors that they could cause birth defects or sterility. Iraqis have little faith in government institutions, which have been weakened by years of corruption and mismanagement.

Many underequipped hospitals have also been overcrowded during the pandemic.

At a Baghdad hospital last month, a fire sparked by an oxygen canister that exploded swept through an isolation ward with no smoke detectors and no functioning sprinkler system. A health ministry official said the death toll had since risen to more than 100.

To try to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, Iraq’s government is imposing a 10-day lockdown starting next week as the holy month of Ramadan ends. Malls, shops and restaurants will be closed, and public gatherings banned.

The government has also directed government institutions to restrict access only to those who can show a vaccination card or a negative coronavirus test.

A man is vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Pforzheim, southern Germany, on Wednesday.
Credit…Michael Probst/Associated Press

BERLIN — Germany’s health minister said that the country would allow anyone 18 and older to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, removing restrictions that limited access to older people and those in certain professions, as the government tries to encourage more people to get vaccinated ahead of the summer.

Doctors should also be allowed to give the two doses quicker than the current standard of 12 weeks between jabs, Jens Spahn, the health minister, said at a news conference on Thursday, emphasizing the need to “exercise more pragmatic flexibility.” He expects that children 12 years and older could start getting vaccinated as early as August.

Germany has wavered on whether people of all ages should get AstraZeneca. Even though the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization have continued to say that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, there are reports that supplies of AstraZeneca doses are going unused in Germany as citizens seek other manufacturers.

While more than 30 percent of the total population has received one dose of a vaccine, only 8.6 percent of Germans are fully vaccinated. And 66 percent of respondents said they preferred Pfizer-BioNTech over other vaccines, while 25 percent said they would consider AstraZeneca, according to a recent study from the University of Koblenz.

The country first recommended the vaccine for people under 65, then suspended use of the vaccine in March over concern about blood clot. The government then limited it to people over 60. The change also represents a departure from some other countries, which have restricted the use of the vaccine to older people or stopped using it altogether. Younger people seem to be more susceptible to the clots.

The vaccination measures have made many Germans turn away from AstraZeneca in the hopes of snagging the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which was created in Germany. Vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also administered in Germany, but the authorities said they would continue to be administered to priority groups until at least June.

The announcement on the AstraZeneca vaccine came as German federal lawmakers on Thursday voted to relax rules for those who are fully vaccinated.

Germany currently has a curfew in place in areas with high infection rates; households are limited in how many people they can meet, and nonessential shopping is restricted to those with recent negative test results. But under the new law, those who have been fully vaccinated or who have been infected with the coronavirus in the last six months would not have to follow those restrictions. In addition, they would be able to return from travel abroad without quarantining. The law would take effect as early as this weekend, if the measures are adopted by the federal council of states, which they are expected to be. Those who can present proof of a previous infection or vaccination would also be able to skip testing requirements currently in place for certain activities like going to hairdressers or shopping in nonessential stores.

A Russian medical worker preparing a shot of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Simferopol, Crimea, in April.
Credit…Alexander Polegenko/Associated Press

The first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine provides sufficient protection on its own to be used without a second injection, the country’s Ministry of Health said on Thursday, clearing the way for a faster vaccination campaign in Russia.

The new policy arose from a debate among public health officials in Russia and a number of other countries about the benefits and drawbacks of accelerating vaccinations by skipping or delaying the second dose of vaccines that were originally designed to be administered in two shots a few weeks apart.

As is the case with other two-dose coronavirus vaccines, Sputnik V provides substantial protection, at least for the short term, after the first shot.

The ministry said in a statement that people in Russia who, for various reasons, skipped their second shot of Sputnik V were still far less likely to become sick than unvaccinated people were.

The statement cited an observational study that found Sputnik V to be 79.4 percent effective after a single shot. Russia has previously reported an efficacy of 91.6 percent after two shots.

The observational study was less precise than a standard vaccine trial, because it compared rates of infection in single-shot recipients with the general infection rate in the population, not with a control group. The ministry did not say how many single-shot recipients were studied. A separate placebo-controlled study of the issue is still underway.

The Russian vaccine uses two common cold viruses that have been genetically modified to carry genes of the coronavirus, which prime the immune system to prevent infection. Developers of the vaccine have said the second dose lengthens the period of time a recipient is immune.

In other countries, health authorities have been wary about approving a simplified single-shot approach for vaccination using vaccines that were tested in trials using two shots.

But the first shot of Sputnik V uses the same common cold virus as the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which already has been approved for use in the United States and other countries and has been shown to be safe and effective, with an efficacy of 72 percent in the United States.

The Russian version of this single-shot approach is called Sputnik Lite.

The two-dose Sputnik V vaccine is still being offered in Russia and to dozens of other countries. Russia’s export customers could also speed up their vaccination campaigns if they follow the Russian Ministry of Health’s lead in approving a single-dose strategy.

The International Olympic Committee is moving to help athletes and officials get vaccinated before traveling to the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Credit…Hiro Komae/Associated Press

Athletes and officials traveling to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will be offered doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine before arriving in Japan, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday, in an effort to reassure the Japanese public about the safety of hosting the event.

The committee said it had struck a deal with the drug makers to send the doses to Olympic and Paralympic Games participants’ home countries, where they will be administered through domestic inoculation programs.

The effort is the latest attempt by Olympic officials and Japanese organizers to assuage the concerns of Japanese people who do not want their country to host the Games during the pandemic. Less than 1 percent of people in Japan have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a New York Times database, and restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses are closed in several areas, including Tokyo.

The initiative was developed “not only to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the residents of Japan,” the committee said in a statement.

Despite the move and an earlier announcement that the committee would buy doses of a Chinese-made vaccine, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials and others attending the Games to be vaccinated.

In March, China said it would provide vaccines for Olympic participants. But China’s vaccines have not been approved in many countries, and several — including Japan — said they would decline the offer.

The I.O.C. president, Thomas Bach, acknowledged that accepting the vaccine was voluntary, even as he urged competitors to be inoculated. “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible,” he said.

Community Health Center, Inc. hosted a “student skip day” to administer the Pfizer vaccine to high school students in East Hartford, Conn., on April 26.
Credit…Jessica Hill/Associated Press

The American public’s willingness to get a Covid vaccine is reaching a saturation point among adults, and many parents do not plan to vaccinate their children, a new national survey suggests.

Only 9 percent of respondents said that they had not yet gotten a shot but intended to do so, according to the survey, which was published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor.

Three in 10 parents said they planned to vaccinate their children as soon as they could. No vaccine is yet available in the U.S. for children; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to be authorized soon for those aged 12 to 15.

The survey found that public confidence in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has plummeted since health authorities suspended using it for 10 days to examine possible links to a rare, dangerous blood clotting problem.

But it also found significant progress in persuading Republicans, who have been among the most hesitant, to be vaccinated.

The findings highlight the challenges ahead for the Biden administration’s efforts to persuade hesitant people to take the vaccine, even as a growing number of scientists and public health experts have concluded that it is unlikely that the country will reach herd immunity.

Overall, slightly more than half of a nationally representative sample of 2,097 adults surveyed said they had gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, a finding that matches data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The administration announced steps on Tuesday to encourage more pop-up and mobile vaccine clinics and to distribute shots to local pharmacies as well as primary care doctors and pediatricians.

Dining at a restaurant in San Diego last week.
Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

After weeks of coronavirus patients flooding emergency rooms in Michigan, hospitalizations are falling. On some recent days, entire states have reported zero new coronavirus deaths. And in New York and Chicago, officials have vowed to fully reopen in the coming weeks, conjuring images of a vibrant summer of concerts, sporting events and packed restaurants.

Americans have entered a new, hopeful phase of the pandemic as the outlook has improved across the nation. The country is recording about 49,000 new cases a day, the lowest number since early October, and hospitalizations have plateaued at about 40,000, a similar level as the early fall.

“We’re in a really good spell and we can act accordingly,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who said it made sense to loosen restrictions now, when the risk is lower than it might be this winter.

Yet even as a sense of hope spreads, there remain strong reasons for caution. Deaths are hovering around 700 a day — down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January. The pace of vaccinations in the country is slowing, and experts now believe that herd immunity in the United States may not be attainable. More transmissible variants of the virus are also spreading.

That could leave the coronavirus infecting tens of thousands of Americans and killing hundreds more each day for some time.

Although more than half of adults in the country have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a new national poll suggests that the American public’s willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine is reaching a saturation point.

Nine percent of unvaccinated respondents said they intended to get a shot, according to the survey, published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor. And with federal authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for people age 12 to 15 expected imminently, parents’ eagerness to have their children vaccinated is also limited, the poll found.

Among the parents surveyed, three in 10 said they would have their children vaccinated immediately, and 26 percent said they wanted to wait and see how the vaccines were working. Eighteen percent said they would have their children vaccinated only if a child’s school required it, and 23 percent said they would not have their children vaccinated.

“We’re in a new stage of talking about vaccine demand,” said Mollyann Brodie, the executive vice president of Kaiser’s Public Opinion and Survey Research Program. “There’s not going to be a single strategy to increase demand across everyone who is left.”

Even so, public health experts say that while they still expect significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they do not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks.

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the health officer in Seattle and King County, said there was no playbook for an endgame to this pandemic, but he urged people to get vaccinated.

“I’m sure all of us want to avoid a long game of Whac-a-Mole with imposing and easing restrictions,” he said. “Vaccination is the cure.”

Demonstrators protested conditions at San Quentin State Prison in California, where more than 2,600 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past year.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The coronavirus tore through prisons, jails and immigration detention centers in the United States over the past year, killing more than 2,700 incarcerated people. Dozens of them died after being approved for release by a parole board, or while being held before trial.

At least nine prison inmates around the country who were already cleared for release died before their scheduled discharge dates. More than 50 men and women died of Covid-19 in local jails while awaiting resolution of the charges that put them there.

Those findings come from a New York Times review of state and federal court records and data, and interviews with prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers and court administrators.

The deaths raise troubling questions about the way the country’s justice system responded to a pandemic that infected incarcerated people at more than three times the national rate.

“Being in jail or prison, especially for a nonviolent offense, should not be a death sentence,” said Andrew H. Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, Fla.

Rebecca Griesbach and

A Covid-19 patient at a hospital in Moradabad, India, on Wednesday.
Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Members of the global Indian diaspora, nearly 17 million, have mobilized from afar to help back home, where the Indian health system is buckling under the weight of a devastating coronavirus wave. Here is one U.S. resident’s story.

The calls come at all hours, sometimes 15 a day, from some of India’s most oppressed and severely ill people, buzzing a cellphone that belongs to Dolly Arjun, an Indian-American physician assistant in Boston.

A few years ago, Ms. Arjun founded a telehealth program to provide free health care to members of India’s Indigenous tribes and to Dalits, who are at the lowest rungs of India’s entrenched caste system and have long faced discrimination. Dalits are typically the last to receive assistance in humanitarian disasters and often live in impoverished rural villages with no hospitals, medical care or schools.

Now, with a devastating wave of coronavirus infections surging across India, Dalits are facing a new peril, Ms. Arjun said. She said she was desperate to help, even though she is emotionally exhausted after a year of working with Covid-19 patients in Massachusetts.

“Tons of people are dying,” Ms. Arjun said. “This is just a human to human need.”

Her focus is not just Hippocratic. She is Dalit herself, a rarity among Indian medical professionals in the United States, most of whom come from upper-caste urban families. “The only reason they might know a Dalit person is because it’s their servant at home,” Ms. Arjun said.

Her telemedicine program has health workers in India who can translate for patients in local languages, but finding medical professionals in the United States to join the effort has not been easy, she said. Still, Ms. Arjun has recruited two physicians.

Patients contact the group through WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, and the medical professionals call back on video. Often their first task is to reassure patients who have little understanding of the coronavirus or the appropriate medical treatments, Ms. Arjun said.

“Part of what’s happening now is patients are being told Covid is going to kill you, so they are panicked,” Ms. Arjun said.

She noted that in one Indian state the government has been broadly distributing packets of medications — including 25 days-worth of antibiotics, which cannot treat viruses — to residents, regardless of whether they have tested positive for Covid-19 or show symptoms.

Sometimes, however, the telehealth calls detect life-or-death emergencies. In late April, Ms. Arjun logged onto a WhatsApp video call with a young Dalit man and his 60-year-old father, who was at home with breathing problems in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where it was around midnight.

“They didn’t know what to do,” she said. “They told us there were no hospitals or oxygen available, and they hadn’t seen a doctor.”

After assessing the man, Ms. Arjun urged the family to check to see whether any hospital beds were available instead of assuming that they were full. “It took a lot of convincing,” she said.

The next day, he was admitted and began to improve, but the hospital was running out of oxygen. Ms. Arjun put out a call on several WhatsApp groups for an oxygen cylinder, though the family did not know the name of the hospital and then fell out of contact.

Days later, she learned that the man had died.

There were road blocks, fires and riots in southern Bogotá on Tuesday after a week of protests and strikes over tax reforms proposed by the Colombian government.
Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A teenager shot to death after kicking a police officer. A young man bleeding out on the street as protesters shout for help. Police officers firing on unarmed demonstrators. Helicopters swarming overhead, tanks rolling through neighborhoods, explosions echoing in the streets. A mother crying for her son.

“We are destroyed,” said Milena Meneses, 39, whose only son, Santiago, 19, was killed in a protest over the weekend.

Colombians demonstrating over the past week against the poverty and inequality that have worsened the lives of millions since the pandemic began have been met with a powerful crackdown by their government, which has responded to the protests with the same militarized police force it often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime.

The clashes have left at least 24 people dead, most of them demonstrators, and at least 87 missing. They have also exacerbated the anger with officials in the capital, Bogotá. Protesters say the government is increasingly out of touch with people’s lives.

Experts say this explosion of frustration could presage unrest across Latin America, where several countries face the combustible mix of an unrelenting pandemic, growing hardship and plummeting government revenue.

“We are all connected,” said León Valencia, a political analyst, noting that past protests had jumped from country to country. “This could spread across the region.”

The marches began last week after Mr. Duque proposed a tax overhaul meant to close a pandemic-related economic shortfall, and since then the crowds have grown. Demonstrators now include teachers, doctors, students, members of major unions, longtime activists and Colombians who have never before taken to the streets.

Latin America was one of the regions hardest hit by the virus last year, with cemeteries filling past capacity, the sick dying while awaiting care in hospital hallways, and family members spending the night in lines to buy medical oxygen in an attempt to keep loved ones alive.

The region’s economies shrank an average of 7 percent. In many places, unemployment, particularly among the young, spiked. And in the first few months of 2021, the Covid-19 situation has worsened.

Global Roundup

A checkpoint in Suva, Fiji, last week, after the Fijian capital entered a 14-day lockdown.
Credit…Leon Lord/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The police and the military in Fiji locked down a major hospital on the island of Viti Levu on Wednesday night, aiming to contain the country’s second coronavirus outbreak.

More than 400 patients and employees are inside the hospital, said Dr. James Fong, the health ministry’s permanent secretary. The lockdown was precipitated by the death of a patient in the intensive-care unit, the third known person to have died from the virus in Fiji. The virus is believed to have passed from the patient to at least two doctors.

Health workers hope to use the lockdown to determine which patients and workers might have come into contact with those infected. Officials said that those inside the hospital would be provided with food and other supplies. Sections of the hospital have been converted into intensive-care units in case other severe infections arise.

With a population of around one million, Fiji has about 50 active cases of the virus, out of 125 total cases reported since the start of the pandemic. Many of the active cases are thought to be of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India.

Recent social restrictions have often been ignored in the South Pacific island nation: The Fijian police have arrested more than 100 people for breaches, with many infractions said to be connected to alcohol or kava, a local intoxicant.

Dr. Fong said at a news conference this week that the country’s containment strategy could take months. “Every Fijian must be ready,” he said.

“We are not up against an identical enemy this time around,” Dr. Fong added. “The chains of transmission are more widespread, and the variant is more transmissible.”

In other news around the world:

  • Germany’s health minister said on Wednesday that the authorities would drop prioritization and age limits for adults willing to be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country had briefly paused and then restricted the use of the AstraZeneca shot to people over 60 because of very rare side effects. Supplies had been piling up in some places because many Germans prefer other vaccines.

  • President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines apologized to the public on Wednesday for having received a shot of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Chinese firm Sinopharm that has not been approved for use in his country — although his spokesman said on Thursday that Mr. Duterte would still receive a second dose of it. The president also asked that a donation of 1,000 doses be sent back to China. Mr. Duterte had broadcast his vaccination live on social media on Monday.

  • New Zealand said it would pause travel from Australia’s state of New South Wales after health officials there said that they were investigating a case of community transmission in Sydney, the first such case in the city in more than a month. Sydney officials have linked the infection to a traveler who returned from the United States and was isolating in a hotel, but have not established how the infection escaped hotel quarantine. The man’s wife also tested positive on Thursday. The cases have prompted Sydney to limit indoor gatherings to 20 people and require masks indoors from Thursday until Sunday. New Zealand and Australia began a quarantine-free travel bubble last month.

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said on Thursday that his government was considering resuming repatriation flights for Australian nationals in India after May 15, after a controversial travel ban last week made it a criminal offense for citizens and residents of Australia to enter the country from India. Critics accused the government of racism, but the authorities framed it as necessary to prevent transmission from a devastating outbreak in India.

Isabella Kwai, Jason Gutierrez and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

A giant squid statue, made at a cost of nearly $230,000, in the town of Noto, Japan.
Credit…Noto Town, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A coastal town in Japan has provoked debate after spending nearly $230,000 in federal Covid-19 relief money on a 43-foot statue of a flying squid.

Noto, a fishing town where the squid is a delicacy, erected the statue in March in a bid to promote tourism after the pandemic subsides. The five-and-a-half-ton pink sea creature sits outside a squid-themed restaurant and tourist center.

Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a town official, said he hoped the statue would be “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period.”

But the giant squid’s unveiling provoked questions among some of the 16,000 residents of the town, roughly 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, who wondered whether there weren’t better uses of its emergency relief funds.

One Twitter user asked how the world would view the installation of a giant squid “in a country where vaccines were not provided, P.C.R. testing isn’t increased and the medical system has collapsed.”

Mr. Shimoyachi acknowledged that residents had raised concerns about whether the money should have been spent elsewhere.

He said that of the $6.2 million in coronavirus relief that the town received from the Japanese government last year, it had spent about $2.5 million on infection control measures and $1.3 million to promote local businesses and employment, and still had money left over after purchasing the squid statue. The town has recorded fewer than 30 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

In all, Japan allocated $41 billion in emergency subsidies to municipalities last year to address the pandemic and its economic impact.

Mr. Shimoyachi said that Noto was historically a center of squid fishing in Japan, but that catches had significantly declined because of competition from Chinese and North Korean boats. Tourism has also fallen, which led the town to build the tourist center in a bid to attract visitors — although Mr. Shimoyachi said that it was too soon to start a marketing campaign.

Japan has controlled the virus better than many countries but has faced a recent spike in cases in Tokyo and other municipalities. The surge has prompted a new round of economic restrictions, criticism of Japan’s slow vaccine rollout and questions over whether the country should proceed with the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in July.

Travelers at Chicago O’Hare airport last week. With more people vaccinated against Covid, travel is increasing.
Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 106 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated. Airlines are resuming overseas flights. Come summer, fully vaccinated people traveling from America will once again be welcome across Europe.

But the reality is more sobering.

Globally, more new coronavirus cases were reported in recent weeks than at any point since the onset of the pandemic. The numbers are being driven by an uncontrolled outbreak in India, but also account for troubling trends among European destinations popular with Americans, from France and Germany to Italy and Spain.

“My doomsday scenario is a mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in a setting where there is high viral load and high viral transmission,” said Dr. Sarah Fortune, the chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Even if international tourists could travel safely, securely and without risking the well-being of their hosts, visitors may face yet another impediment: The destinations may lack many of their usual draws. In Paris, bars and restaurants have been closed since the end of October, as are museums.

Jordyn Coleman, 11, attending math class from his apartment in Clarksdale, Miss., during a virtual learning day.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Until the pandemic, Jordyn and his mother, Precious Coleman, lived in Battle Creek, Mich., where he was known among his teachers as a bright but easily distracted student, capable of soaring when he was engaged.

On the day of a standardized test, Jordyn sat in front of his computer, humming to himself and spinning around in his chair. His teacher thought he was goofing off — until the results came in.

When his mother came to pick him up, a school administrator was waiting for her, and she worried Jordyn had gotten into trouble. “That’s when they told me that he had gotten not just the best score in his class but the best score in the entire grade,” she said.

After the pandemic hit, Ms. Coleman struggled to make ends meet. She and her two sons ended up moving to Clarksdale, Miss., one of the poorest corners of the United States. Ms. Coleman works an overnight shift at a casino. Jordyn waits for her to return home in the morning so he can log in to school with her cellphone, and she struggles to stay awake to help him.

Now Jordyn is at risk of becoming one of the lost students of the coronavirus pandemic in the most disrupted American school year since World War II.

The pandemic has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to bathing.
Credit…Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool in Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering every day. “It’s what you did,” she said.

But when the pandemic forced her indoors and away from the public, she started showering once a week. The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing — and it has stuck.

“Don’t get me wrong — I like showers,” said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom, I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”

The pandemic has upended the use of zippered pants and changed many people’s eating and drinking habits. And there are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.

Parents say that their teenage children are forgoing daily showers. After the British news media reported on a YouGov survey showing that 17 percent of people in Britain had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many on Twitter said they had done the same.

Heather Whaley, 49, a writer in Redding, Conn., said that her shower use had dropped 20 percent in the past year. After the pandemic forced her into lockdown, she said, she began considering why she was showering every day.

“Do I need to? Do I want to?” she said. “The act of taking a shower became less a matter of function and more of a matter of doing something for myself that I enjoyed.”

(An earlier version of this item misspelled the name of the town.)

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Covid travel news live: Green list announcement looms as as travel bosses demand clarity

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

The Government is set to reveal on Friday its “green list” of quarantine-free travel destinations starting 17 May.

The highly anticipated list, which is part of the UK’s “traffic light” travel system, is expected to be revealed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Ministers were expected to meet on Thursday to determine which countries will make the list, which is expected to be relatively short.

It comes as senior travel industry figures have called on the Foreign Office to provide “clarity” and “consistency” in its travel advice.

Chief executives of Airlines UK and travel association Abta wrote to the Foreign Office demanding that its advice be “used for its intended purpose, to assess the risk to individuals travelling to a particular destination”.

Tim Alderslade of Airlines UK, which represents leading carriers, said the office’s advice must be “consistent and coordinated with the traffic light system – providing clarity for the industry and travellers.”.

Travel industry leaders have also struck out at the UK over its “cautious” approach to easing holiday restrictions as the Government prepares to release its “green list” of countries travelers can visit without having to quarantine after.

In a joint article in The Daily Telegraph, leaders of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Heathrow Airport and the Manchester Airport Group took aim at the British government’s “overabundance of caution”.

In particular, the group hit out at the government’s plan to require fully vaccinated holidaymakers to take a PCR test when returning home from a country on the green list.

“Instead of taking advantage of the success of the vaccine programme the Government risks closing the UK off from the rest of the world,” they said.


Nine in 10 over-70s in England fully vaccinated, figures suggest

Nine in 10 people in England aged 70 and over are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, figures suggest.

An estimated 90.0 per cent of people in this age group had received both doses of the vaccine as of 2 May.

For people aged 65 to 69 the figure is 50.5 per cent, while for 60 to 64-year-olds the estimate is 26.1 per cent.

People aged 70 and over were in the top four groups on the priority list for vaccines, with initial doses offered to over-80s from early December.

Second doses must follow within 12 weeks of the first, meaning any people in these age groups yet to have a follow-up jab should receive it within the next few weeks.

The figures for vaccinations were published by NHS England, and have been combined with population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Chiara Giordano6 May 2021 17:23


Air fares to Portugal soar ahead of green list announcement

Demand for flights to Portugal is surging, indicating that many holidaymakers hope the summer hotspot will be on the government’s green travel list when it is published on Friday.

British Airways is charging £530 for a flight from Heathrow to the Algarve on 17 May, which is when the ban on foreign holidays will be lifted for people in England.

Flying the same route two days earlier costs just £234.

A Ryanair flight from Stansted to Portugal’s capital Lisbon on the day overseas leisure travel restarts is £152, compared with £15 on 16 May.

EasyJet is charging £234 for a flight from Luton to the Algarve on 17 May, but just £73 the following day.

Airlines increase prices in line with demand, indicating that many holidaymakers are hoping Portugal is categorised as a low-risk destination for coronavirus.

Chiara Giordano6 May 2021 17:03


No full-time return to office for more than a million UK workers

More than 1 million employees at the UK’s biggest firms will not return to the office full time after coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The BBC surveyed the UK’s 50 biggest companies, 43 of which said they will not be bringing employees back to the office full time.

Saman Javed has more details:

Chiara Giordano6 May 2021 16:43


UK reports further 13 Covid deaths and 2,613 cases

Government data shows a further 13 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of today, bringing the UK total to 127,583.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 152,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The government also said that, as of 9am today, there had been a further 2,613 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

It brings the total to 4,428,553.

Chiara Giordano6 May 2021 16:33


Obese men at greater risk of Covid death than obese women, study suggests

Obese men are at greater risk of suffering severe health consequences, including death, from Covid-19 than obese women, a new study has suggested.

In a study analysing data from 3,530 patients in hospital with Covid 19, researchers found that obese men with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or over had a “significant association with higher in-hospital mortality”, while women with a BMI of 40 or over had the same link, PA has reported.

In the study, a BMI of 35 to 39.9 was considered class II obesity, while 40 and over was seen as class III.

The researchers found that patients with class II and class III obesity had a higher chance of dying in hospital, especially when compared with patients of “normal” weight.

The study, which was published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, concluded that “obesity classes II and III in men and obesity class III in women were independently associated with higher in-hospital mortality in patients with Covid-19”.

Additional reporting by PA

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 16:05


Vaccine booking site flaw allows people to work out others’ status

An apparent flaw been uncovered on the coronavirus vaccine booking website that lets users figure out another person’s vaccination status using their basic information.

The service asks for an individual’s NHS number or simply their name, date of birth and postcode to arrange an appointment.

Using those details, however, users can easily deduce whether others have been vaccinated as those who have not had a jab are taken to a standard page, while those who have had a first jab are asked to book a second.

Those who have had both doses are taken to a page asserting that they have had both appointments already.

The apparent flaw has prompted concerns from privacy campaigners, with Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch, telling PA: “This is a seriously shocking failure to protect patients’ medical confidentiality at a time when it could not be more important.”

“This online system has left the population’s Covid vaccine statuses exposed to absolutely anyone to pry into,” Carlo said.

“Date of birth and postcode are fields of data that can be easily found or bought, even on the electoral roll.

“This is personal health information that could easily be exploited by companies, insurers, employers or scammers.”

An NHS Digital spokesman told the agency the messaging on the website is being looked into.

Additional reporting from PA

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 15:51


UK holidaymakers ‘will be left behind’ in race to the sun, says EasyJet boss

The head of the UK’s biggest budget airline has warned that British travellers are going to be “left behind” in the race to the sun due to the Government’s cautious approach.

In an interview withThe Independent, Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said he believes “most of the European countries” should be on the UK’s no-quarantine “green list”, which is expected to be revealed tomorrow.

Travel correspondent Simon Calder has more:

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 15:35


Travel industry chiefs demand better Foreign Office advice

Travel industry leaders are calling on the Foreign Office to provide advice in line with its “intended purpose” and provide clear and consistent advice for travelers.

As the Government prepared to announce its “green list” of quarantine-free holiday destinations, the chief executives of Airlines UK and travel association Abta wrote a letter to the Foreign Office, urging “clarity” and “consistency”.

Read more from our travel correspondent Simon Calder:

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 15:25


Three quarters of people aged 45 to 49 likely to have had first vaccine dose, NHS England says

Roughly three quarters of people in England aged 45 to 49 have likely had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, NHS England has said.

According to the NHS, 74.7% of people in the age group are estimated to have gotten the jab as of 2 May.

The data also suggests that 89.5% of people aged 50 to 54 have also had their first dose, while 95.3% of those aged 55 to 59 are believed to have had their first jab.

Among 60 to 64-year-olds, 98% are believed to have had their first dose while 94.4% of those ages 65 to 69 are estimated to have received theirs.

Meanwhile, some 97.7% of people aged 70 and over are estimated to have had their first dose.

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 15:05


Holly Willoughby describes ‘amazing’ and ‘emotional’ vaccination experience

Holly Willoughby has described her experience getting the coronavirus jab as an “emotional” after receiving the jab.

The star, 40, said she had received her first dose on Wednesday.

She said she was prepared for the potential side effects of the jab, but said she ended up feeling “left out” after experiencing no changes.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, she said: “I went for my vaccine, and I stood in the queue and I went in, totally seamless, all fine.

“It’s quite an emotional experience, isn’t it? I think you’ve been talking about it for so long and then you go in there and it’s everybody around you.

“There’s sort of a real atmosphere that we’re all finally getting that vaccination that we’ve wanted,” she said.

“So it was, it was amazing. That’s the first one, I’ve got to wait a while now,” she added.

Her co-host Phillip Schofield said he had also been vaccinated, calling the process “unbelievably efficient”.

“You’re sort of in and you’re out, shake it all about. I was so thrilled I did actually, as a matter of fact,” he said.

Schofield said he had felt fine after receiving his jab other than a “slightly bruised arm”.

He also expressed disappointment that he did not receive a badge after getting the jab, jokingly branding the incident “badge-gate”.

Chantal Da Silva6 May 2021 14:51

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Covid-19 live updates: India breaks its own records again with 412,000 new cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours – The Washington Post

Covid-19 live updates: India breaks its own records again with 412,000 new cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in 24 hours  The Washington Post

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Covid-19 live updates: Club of rich countries to address unequal global vaccine rollout – The Washington Post

Covid-19 live updates: Club of rich countries to address unequal global vaccine rollout  The Washington Post

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US reports sharp drop in first-dose vaccinations; Florida suspends emergency orders, mask requirements: Live COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

US reports sharp drop in first-dose vaccinations; Florida suspends emergency orders, mask requirements: Live COVID-19 updates  USA TODAY

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Coronavirus news live: Latest UK travel green list and vaccine updates

‘Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet’, says Liz Truss

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to ministers.

The government is expected to announce a green list of destinations – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – shortly, and then review this list every three weeks.

While the public await the official list, the UK has amended its travel advice to show a list of low-risk nations ahead of the expected return to non-essential travel in mid-May.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has said he feels “fairly optimistic” there will be a return to “something which feels a lot more normal by the summer”.

The expert from Imperial College London, who advises the government, also said the UK data on deaths and cases was “very encouraging” and it was unlikely the NHS would be overwhelmed after an expected rise in Covid cases in late summer.

But Professor Stephen Reicher, another expert, has warned the public to take Boris Johnson’s comments suggesting social distancing could be scrapped in summer with a “pinch of salt”.


No evidence Covid-19 vaccines affected by drinking alcohol, says health regulator

There is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines are affected by drinking alcohol after having had the jab, a UK regulator has said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was responding to reports on social media that people ought to avoid drinking for up to two weeks following a vaccine.

In January, advisers to Drinkaware, an alcohol education charity which is funded by the alcohol industry, said there was some evidence drinking, particularly heavy drinking, may interfere with the body’s ability to build an immune response to some vaccines.

There is no information on this in patient information leaflets from the NHS or the vaccine manufacturers however that would suggest a link of this kind.

A spokeswoman for the MHRA said: “There is currently no evidence that drinking alcohol interferes with the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“We would advise anyone concerned about this to talk to their healthcare professional,” PA reported.

Eleanor Sly4 May 2021 12:08


Eight Asiatic lions at Indian zoo test positive for Covid

Eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for Covid-19 at a zoo in Hyderabad, India, in the first such case reported in the country.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India’s largest organisation for research and development, tweeted that one of its life science institutions in Hyderabad, The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), would carry out “detailed investigation of the samples for genome sequencing to find out if the strain came from human beings or not.”

Veterinarians at the Nehru Zoological Park reportedly noticed the lions showing Covid-like symptoms in the last week of April.

Vishwam Sankaran has more:

Eleanor Sly4 May 2021 11:58


Most of Europe should be on ‘green list’ next month, ministers say

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to government ministers.

This “big bang” reopening for travel is due in large part to the UK’s successful rollout of the vaccination programme, which has seen one in four Britons receive both doses of the vaccine at the time of writing.

After the initial green list of countries – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – is announced, the list will be reviewed every three weeks.

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:39


Key questions and answers on EU travel plans

Amid lots of talk about travel and the UK’s “green list” of destinations, the EU is proposing that travel restrictions are eased on their end.

But the new proposals can be implemented, modified or ignored by member countries.

Simon Calder takes a look at the key questions and answers:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:25


85% following self-isolation rules after positive test – ONS

Around 85 per cent who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) findings – based on responses collected from adults in England between 12-16 April – found 15 per cent of people reported at least one activity during self-isolation that broke the rules, such as leaving home or having visitors for a reason not permitted under legislation.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:10


What restrictions will ease by end of May?

A government adviser has predicted this summer will feel “a lot more normal” – if not “completely normal”.

On that note, here is a reminder of restrictions that will remain in place by the end of this month, and those that will have been lifted if all goes to plan:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:54


‘Sensible and cautious precautions’

Professor Stephen Reicher said people will need to be careful in future, but not in a way that limits daily life.

The government scientific adviser said: “Even after restrictions go, it makes sense to have sensible and cautious precautions; not in a way that limit our everyday lives, not in a way that stops us seeing people or hugging people, but just realising, for instance, that on the whole, we are safer outside, don’t sit too close to people, open the windows.”

He added: “So we need to be sensible about this, we need to be cautious about this, and in that way I think we’re much more likely to get to a space where our lives are much more back to normal, much more tolerable, where we can meet and hug our loved ones, but don’t just hug anybody.”

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:21


‘The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe’

Here is Portugal’s tourism minister explaining the EU’s plans to restart tourism.

“The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe,” she said.

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:13


Iceland travel

In more travel news, a British tour operator has persuaded Iceland’s prime minister to permit UK holidaymakers to be admitted on production of an NHS vaccination card.

Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, reports:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:11


‘The British market is really important to all Europe’

Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, said the country is “taking the lead” at the European Council in negotiations aimed at opening up the European Union to UK holidaymakers.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We are really pushing hard to open up to third countries like the UK.

“I’m not going to tell you how important is the British market to Portugal. I just want to tell you that the British market is really important to all Europe, and in that sense we are ready to welcome you when you are ready to come.”

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:00

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Covid-19 live updates: India’s vaccine shortage to last months, top manufacturer warns – The Washington Post

Covid-19 live updates: India’s vaccine shortage to last months, top manufacturer warns  The Washington Post

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Covid-19 and Vaccine News: Live Updates

Oxygen cylinders outside a shop in South Delhi. A court said it would start punishing government officials for failing to deliver oxygen.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

A severe shortage of medical oxygen in India has left people gasping for their final breaths in their hospital beds, a sign of government futility in its fight against a crushing wave of coronavirus infections.

The latest tragic consequence came on Sunday night, when at least 12 people hospitalized with Covid-19 died in Chamarajanagar, southwestern India, because of a lack of oxygen, according to the regional authorities. Hospital officials were left desperately dialing senior government functionaries and made calls to neighboring officials for help. Videos from the hospital showed relatives of sick patients using towels to fan their loved ones in an attempt to save them.

Many countries, including Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt and Jordan, have faced oxygen shortages that have led to deadly accidents and driven up virus deaths. The World Health Organization estimated earlier this year that 500,000 people were in need of oxygen supply every day, but that number is likely to be much higher with the outbreak in India.

The Indian authorities have said that the country has enough liquid oxygen to meet medical needs and that it is rapidly expanding its supply. But production facilities are concentrated in eastern India, far from the worst outbreaks in New Delhi and in western areas of the country, requiring several days of travel by road.

Ritu Priya, a professor at the Center of Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, called the oxygen shortage a failure of governance. “We were not able to channelize oxygen distribution over the past year when that is what we should have been doing,” Dr. Priya said.

“We are living from oxygen cylinder to oxygen cylinder,” she said.

On Sunday, the New Delhi High Court said that it would start punishing government officials for failing to deliver oxygen after hospitals in the capital successfully sought an injunction, The Associated Press reported.

It was the latest verdict against Indian leaders: Voters in crucial state elections dealt Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party a blow by electing an opposition party in West Bengal, one of India’s most populous states and a stronghold of opposition to Mr. Modi, India’s most powerful prime minister in decades.

The Supreme Court also weighed in on Sunday, urging the central and state governments to consider another lockdown to gain control of the virus and to create an emergency stockpile of oxygen, according to the Indian news media.

Critics have blasted Mr. Modi’s handling of the crisis. A sudden, harsh lockdown imposed early in the pandemic sent millions of laborers scrambling back to their home villages and disrupted the economy. When cases dropped, Mr. Modi’s government failed to heed warnings of a potential resurgence from scientists, and its Covid-19 task force did not meet for months. Mr. Modi declared a premature victory over Covid in late January during what proved to be a mere lull in infections.

Now, cremation grounds are working day and night, burning thousands of bodies. The country is rife with the more lethal and transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus, first found in Britain, as well as a local variant, B.1.617. Experts are worried that the unchecked outbreak will spawn more dangerous variants of the coronavirus.

On Saturday, India reported nearly 3,700 deaths, its highest daily toll, with 3,417 deaths on Sunday, according to a New York Times database. It also logged 392,488 new cases Saturday and 368,060 on Sunday. These are tallies that no other country has ever seen, and experts say the real toll is far higher.

Indian officials announced over the weekend that the army had opened its hospitals to civilians and that the first batch of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, had arrived, a boost to India’s flagging inoculation campaign.

Over the weekend, aid from a half-dozen countries arrived at airports across India; it included 157 ventilators from the United Arab Emirates, 500 oxygen cylinders from Taiwan and 1,000 vials of the medicine Remdesivir from Belgium.


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On Sunday, the United States delivered the third of six aid shipments to New Delhi, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders. Britain donated more than 400 oxygen concentrators, and France sent eight oxygen generators, each of which can serve 250 hospitalized patients.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Prakash Singh

On Sunday, the United States delivered the third of six aid shipments to New Delhi, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders. Britain donated more than 400 oxygen concentrators, and France sent eight oxygen generators, each of which can serve 250 hospitalized patients.

Britain and France announced plans to donate more, and the United States has pledged $100 million worth of supplies, which will include 15 million N95 masks and one million rapid diagnostic tests. Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that the Biden administration had sent the raw materials to produce 20 million vaccine doses, and he said the United States might lift patents on vaccines to boost global production.

Vaccines are badly needed in India, where shortages forced several states on Saturday to delay expanding access to everyone aged 18 and over. While it is a global power in vaccine production, India didn’t purchase enough doses to protect itself: Less than 2 percent of its 940 million adults have been fully vaccinated.

People riding the subway in February.
Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

New York City’s subway will return to 24-hour service on May 17 more than a year after closing overnight during the pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.

The restoration of subway hours are the latest sign of New York’s recovery as more people have gotten vaccinated and city life has slowly begun to pick up. On Monday, some city government workers also began retuning to their offices.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s subway system, initially shut down subway service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on May 6 last year as subway ridership plummeted in part as commuters avoided public transit and worked from home. M.T.A. crews were dispatched to deep clean and disinfect the subways during the closings.

But as recently as February, the M.T.A shortened the overnight subway closings to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and signaled that they soon planned to resume 24-hour service. M.T.A. officials said Monday that they planned to continue deep cleaning and disinfecting during subway operating hours. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged what scientists have been saying for months: The risk of catching the coronavirus from surfaces is low.

Subway ridership has started to rebound in recent months to more than 2 million daily trips last month, though that number is still less than half of the peak subway ridership before the pandemic.

Mr. Cuomo announced the return of subways hours as part of the state’s broader efforts to increase economic activities, including lifting pandemic restrictions on restaurants and bars.

Credit…Bianca De Marchi/EPA, via Shutterstock

To prevent a new wave of infections in Australia, about 8,000 Australia citizens and residents are banned from returning home from India as of Monday.

The travel ban is believed to represent the first time Australia has made it a criminal offense for its own citizens and permanent residents to enter the country.

“I never expected this to happen,” said Drisya Dilin, an Australian hospital administrator whose 5-year-old daughter has been in India for over a year because of strict border policies, despite many attempts to bring her home.

Much of the world has decided to cut off travel to and from India as it grapples with an uncontrolled outbreak that is killing thousands of people every day. But Australia, a continent with a strong preference for hard borders, has pushed isolation to a new extreme. No other democratic nation has issued a similar ban on all arrivals. Britain, Germany and the United States, for example, have restricted travel from India, but have exempted citizens and permanent residents, many of whom are rushing home.

Australia’s decision — announced quietly late Friday night by officials who said it was necessary to keep the country safe — has built into a medical and moral crisis.

Indian-Australians are outraged. Human rights groups have condemned the move as unnecessarily harsh and a violation of citizenship principles. Other critics have suggested that the policy was motivated by racism or, at the very least, a cultural double standard.

“It’s criminalizing the situation when intense empathy is required,” said Sheba Nandkeolyar, a marketing executive and national chair of Women in Business for Australia India Business Council. “It’s a very tough situation.”

Australia’s latest move fits a pattern. The island has maintained some of the strictest border measures in the world since the pandemic began. No one can leave the country without official government permission. Coming home, even from a country with declining infection rates, often seems to require government connections, celebrity status or luck, along with $30,000 for a one-way plane ticket.

There are about 35,000 Australians overseas who have been unable to make the journey either because they have been unable to obtain seats on repatriation flights or because they have been unable to afford the tickets.

In the case of India, Australia’s already opaque, unequal and selective policy — based in part on how many people can be moved through for 14-day hotel quarantine — has become absolute. It means keeping thousands of Australians in a place where coronavirus case numbers have skyrocketed; where hospitals have run out of beds, ventilators and medical oxygen; and where crematories are burning day and night amid a deluge of bodies.

Australian officials said the new restrictions, with penalties of up to five years in prison and nearly 60,000 Australian dollars ($46,300) in fines, would keep its hotel quarantine system from being overwhelmed.

Travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last month. The European Union says it will be open this summer to American travelers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The European Union will recommend that its member states open borders to travelers who have been fully vaccinated, it said on Monday, clearing the way for the countries to welcome more visitors.

Member states are set later this week to debate the proposal, which was issued by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. Visitors who have received a vaccine approved by the European Union’s drug agency would be allowed to travel freely, and individual countries could still impose tougher requirements on visitors, the proposal said.

The Commission said that if certain member states were prepared to let in visitors who had tested negative, they should do the same for vaccinated ones. Unvaccinated travelers could still be permitted, but countries could require tests or quarantines.

Yet the return of tourism, which the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke about last Sunday, would be a much-needed boon for countries, particularly those in southern Europe whose economies rely heavily on tourism but have been crippled by shutdowns.

The announcement comes more than a year after the first bans on nonessential travel from most countries to the bloc came into effect.

A handful of countries with low virus caseloads, including Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, have been exempt from the ban. The Commission said on Monday that it would expand that list by allowing in visitors — regardless of vaccination status — from countries with virus rates higher than the current limit (though still lower than the European Union average).

If member states accept the proposal, they would also be able activate an “emergency brake” mechanism to suspend all travel from outside of the bloc, the Commission said, to avoid the spread of coronavirus variants.

Countries including Greece, Spain and France have already said they will open for visitors who can show proof of a vaccination or a negative test.

Under the new proposal, visitors would be able to enter the European Union if they received the last recommended dose of an authorized vaccine at least 14 days before arrival.

Travelers would have to prove their status under a vaccination certificate program issued by the national authorities of the country they wished to travel to, according to the Commission. But until that program was in place, governments could also accept certificates from countries outside the bloc, impose quarantines or require a proof of a negative test.

Over a thousand people gathered to watch the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth, Tex., last month.
Credit…Shelby Tauber for The New York Times

Early in the pandemic, when vaccines were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus that we could be rid of it.

Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been vaccinated with at least one dose. But rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among public health experts that herd immunity is not attainable — not in the foreseeable future, perhaps not ever.

Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

How much smaller depends in part on how much of the nation, and the world, becomes vaccinated and how the coronavirus evolves.

global roundup

A hospital in El Alto, Bolivia, hosted a vaccination day for older adults last week. A second batch of vaccines arrived in Bolivia through Covax, the international vaccine-sharing initiative.
Credit…Martin Alipaz/EPA, via Shutterstock

The American drugmaker Moderna announced on Monday that it would supply up to 500 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Covax, the international vaccine-sharing initiative that aims to distribute vaccines to poor and middle-income countries that have been unable to secure deals on their own.

Under the agreement, which was negotiated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the first 34 million doses will be delivered by the end of the year, and the rest through 2022.

The deal covers 92 middle- and low-income countries, Moderna said. It added that the doses would be offered at the company’s “lowest-tiered price” but did not say what that was.

The deal comes as countries in Europe have pledged donations to Covax to address urgent supply shortages, in particular with AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in India, which has curtailed exports as it faces an unprecedented surge of infections.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, which backs Covax, said on Monday that the initiative urgently needed 20 million doses for the second quarter of 2021.

Sweden announced that it would donate a million AstraZeneca doses to Covax to address shortages, and France made an initial pledge of 500,000 last month.

Although Covax was created to resolve the inequities created by a free market where the richest can buy the most, it has delivered only 49 million doses to dozens of countries, according to Gavi’s website. Health advocates have questioned its transparency and accountability, and developed countries have been accused of cutting lines and monopolizing vaccine doses.

In other news from around the world:

  • In Britain, a group of cross-party lawmakers urged the government on Monday to discourage all leisure travel abroad to prevent the importation of new variants into Britain and to reduce the risk of a new wave of infections. The warning comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to reopen international travel this month, with many in Britain hoping that they can travel across Europe and beyond for summer vacation.

  • In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to receive his first dose of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine on Monday, according to a livestream shared on Facebook by a Filipino lawmaker and Filipino news outlets. “I feel good,” Mr. Duterte said in the video, adding that he had been expecting to receive the China-backed vaccine for a long time. The vaccine has not been approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use yet, and Sinopharm has not applied for approval by the Philippine drug regulator. But Mr. Duterte received it under a permit that granted access to 10,000 doses for his security group, according to Rappler, a Manila-based news website.

  • In Greece, outdoor restaurant service resumed on Monday after a six-month hiatus, a much-anticipated reopening after people began filling city squares and beaches as temperatures rose. Greece has gradually lifted restrictions in recent weeks, including ending quarantine requirements for visitors from dozens of countries. The authorities plan to reopen the tourism sector on May 15, when domestic travel restrictions are also set to lift.

  • France began easing lockdown restrictions on Monday, reopening middle and high schools and lifting a ban on domestic travel. Outdoor dining at cafes and restaurants is scheduled to reopen later this month, and a 7 p.m. nightly curfew is expected to be pushed back to 9 p.m.

  • The European Union’s drug regulator announced that it had begun evaluating clinical-trial data to extend the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to children ages 12 to 15, the first vaccine to be assessed for pediatric use in the bloc. The European Medicines Agency said the review would be accelerated, and it expects a decision in June.

  • In Germany, the Munich Oktoberfest will be canceled for a second year in a row, the authorities in the Bavaria region said on Monday. The lawmakers cited difficulties in enforcing mask or distance rules. The last time the event ran, in September and October 2019, it attracted 6.3 million people.

A health worker administers a Covid-19 test in Gauhati, India, on Saturday.
Credit…Anupam Nath/Associated Press

The coronavirus surge that is lashing India, where countless funeral pyres cloud the night skies, is more than just a humanitarian disaster: Experts say uncontrolled outbreaks like India’s also threaten to prolong the pandemic by allowing more dangerous virus variants to mutate, spread and possibly evade vaccines.

The United States will begin restricting travel from India later this week, but similar limitations on air travel from China that President Trump imposed in the early days of the pandemic proved to be ineffectual.

“We can ban all the flights we want but there is literally zero way we can keep these highly contagious variants out of our country,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

As the coronavirus spreads among human hosts, it invariably mutates, creating opportunities for new variants that can be more transmissible or even more deadly. One highly contagious variant, known as B.1.1.7, crushed Britain earlier this year and is already well entrenched in the United States and Europe.

Recent estimates suggest that B.1.1.7 is about 60 percent more contagious and 67 percent more deadly than the original form of the virus. Another worrisome variant, P.1, is wreaking havoc across South America.

On Friday, India recorded 401,993 new cases in a single day, a world record, though experts say its true numbers are far higher than what’s being reported. Peru, Brazil and other countries across South America are also experiencing devastating waves.

Virologists are unsure what is driving India’s second wave. Some have pointed to a homegrown variant called B.1.617, but researchers outside of India say the limited data suggests that B.1.1.7 may be to blame.

With 44 percent of adults having received at least one dose, the United States has made great strides vaccinating its citizens, though experts say the country is far from reaching so-called herd immunity, when the virus can’t spread easily because it can’t find enough hosts. Vaccine hesitancy remains a formidable threat to reaching that threshold.

In much of the world, however, vaccines are still hard to come by, especially in poorer countries. In India, less than 2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. “If we want to put this pandemic behind us, we can’t let the virus run wild in other parts of the world,” Dr. Jha said.

Preliminary evidence suggests that the vaccines are effective against the variants, although slightly less so against some.

“For now, the vaccines remain effective, but there is a trend toward less effectiveness,” said Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

Vaccine makers say they are poised to develop booster shots that would tackle especially troublesome variants, but such a fix would be of little help to poorer nations already struggling to obtain the existing vaccines. Experts say the best way to head off the emergence of dangerous variants is to tamp down new infections and immunize most of humanity as quickly as possible.

Dr. Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said that the longer the coronavirus circulates, the more time it has to mutate, which could eventually threaten vaccinated people; the only way to break the cycle is to ensure countries like India get enough vaccines.

“In order to stop this pandemic, we have to vaccinate the whole world,” Dr. Diamond said. “There will be new waves of infection over and over again unless we vaccinate at a global scale.”

People waited in an observation room after being vaccinated in Copenhagen last month. Officials said the country would do without  the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine.
Credit…Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix, via Reuters

Denmark will not use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Danish Health Authority announced on Monday, saying in a statement that the country could make adequate progress using other vaccines and did not need to run the risk of a rare, dangerous blood clotting condition that may be linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The country has halted administering the AstraZeneca vaccine for similar reasons, after two people died of blood clots after being given that vaccine.

Denmark had been planning to use the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine before reports emerged about a possible link to the clotting condition, which seems to mainly affect younger women. Dropping the vaccine from its plans will set back the country’s timetable for vaccinating adults under 40 by about a month, Danish officials said,

The United States temporarily suspended using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday that it would be made available again, with a warning about the possible clotting risk added to its label.

The European Medicines Agency, the regulatory body for the European Union, has also endorsed use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with an added warning.

The Danish Health Authority, however, said it had independently investigated the vaccine and decided against using it.

“Taking the present situation in Denmark into account, what we are currently losing in our effort to prevent severe illness from Covid-19 cannot outweigh the risk of causing possible side effects in the form of severe blood clots in those we vaccinate,” the authority said in a statement.

“One should also bear in mind that, going forward, we will first and foremost be vaccinating younger and healthy people,” Helene Probst, the deputy director general of the authority, said in the statement.

Christina Anderson contributed reporting.

Nepalese Army officials saluted the bodies of Covid-19 victims at a crematorium in Kathmandu, the Nepali capital, on Saturday.
Credit…Bikash Karki/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Public fury over Nepal’s growing wave of coronavirus infections has been rising in the country, with many people blaming travelers from India and several other virus-stricken countries as well as government ineptitude in handling the pandemic and large political rallies.

In response, Nepal halted all domestic flights on Sunday and announced that it would suspend international flights starting Wednesday.

As India’s crisis has worsened over recent weeks, people from several Indian states thronged to Nepal via land and air routes. Some were Nepali migrant workers returning home; others aimed to travel onward to third countries.

Last week, Nepal responded by banning third-country travel via Nepal and imposing two-week lockdowns in several cities, closing schools, colleges, factories, nightclubs and theaters. Public gatherings are also banned.

But those moves have so far done little to quell infections, which are spiking in Nepal’s densely populated cities, including Kathmandu, the capital, and metropolitan areas bordering India to the southwest.

The number of infections reported in Nepal has escalated rapidly since mid-April, from a seven-day average of new daily cases of less than 100 to more than 4,500 as of Saturday. On Sunday, Nepal reported 7,211 new cases.

Three cabinet members have been hospitalized with the virus, and the government is scrambling to arrange for oxygen imports and hospital beds.

Health experts have attributed the country’s second wave in part to the unchecked flow of Nepali migrant workers from India and in part to large political rallies organized by the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist and Leninist) and other opposition parties that aimed to show strength during the pandemic.

This is the second time Nepal has suspended international flights in response to the pandemic. In April 2020, it halted international flights for more than five months.

According to accounts in Nepali news outlets, chartered cargo flights will continue to fly.

Lining up for Covid-19 vaccines in Toronto in April.
Credit…Chris Helgren/Reuters

Naomi Harris plans to drive to Buffalo next week from her home in Toronto to get the second dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. At home, her second appointment was set for July 1, but she thought that as a caregiver for someone with cancer, that was too long to wait.

Canada’s slow vaccine rollout has left some people waiting four months between doses. While at least 33 percent of Canadians have received one shot, just three percent are fully vaccinated.

New daily cases reached a seven-day average over 8,700 in mid-April, according to a New York Times database, levels not seen since a winter surge. Ontario has been among the hardest hit, reporting 3,700 new cases on Sunday.

Ms. Harris, 47, said she had to be “very pushy” for her mother to get vaccinated in a shorter time than expected. After her mother received a first dose in early March, her second dose was scheduled for June 30, according to Ms. Harris, “which was insane because my mom has cancer and is over 80,” she said.

Eventually, their province of Ontario changed the rules for people with certain types of cancer and Ms. Harris’s mother received her second dose in early April. Ms. Harris is eligible for her shot in Buffalo as a dual Canadian and American citizen who is enrolled in a graduate program in Buffalo remotely. “I can’t take the risk of getting my mom sick,” Ms. Harris said.

As supply increases, officials have said, the wait between two inoculations is expected to shorten, and some initiatives are trying to shrink the gap.

Zain Manji, who runs the company Lazer from Toronto, created a text system with a friend that allows people to find vaccination sites near them. Since its start on April 30, at least 50,000 people have used it.

“I think there’s been a lot of confusion around who is eligible, which locations are vaccinating people, what vaccines that they’re offering,” Mr. Manji said. “People are eager to get it and want to get it as fast as they can,” he added about the vaccine.

The vaccines are coming at a crucial time: Amid a third wave, the worst-affected provinces are reporting case numbers per capita that rival those of India — although figures in India are likely to be underestimated.

In Quebec, a curfew, limits on gatherings, and takeout-only dining have helped to quell cases. Jean-Sébastien Guay, 27, of Montreal had his first shot on Sunday. “It hasn’t been perfect,” he said, but officials communicated consistently. “They all work pretty hard to make it work.”

Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine, has been pushing for the Biden administration to offer help to Canada. “This is not a time to hold back,” Dr. Hotez said in a telephone interview. After writing on Twitter that the government should ship more Pfizer doses to Canada, he was met with emotional stories from Canadians.

Adding insult to injury for some Canadians is the possibility of their country opening travel to vaccinated American tourists. “It’s frustrating for me to sit here and watch my friends in the United States going to restaurants, carrying on as if life is normal,” said Ms. Harris, who said she had been in a quasi-lockdown since November.

“In the rest of the world, life is not normal.”

A Covid-19 patient received oxygen from a gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, last month.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

With India’s health care system overwhelmed by the country’s unprecedented Covid-19 surge, desperate relatives and friends of the infected have resorted to sending S.O.S. messages on social media.

Many of those calls are being answered.

More than 400,000 new coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths are being reported each day. Some people need medical oxygen, which is nearly impossible to find in Delhi, the capital. Others are hunting for medicine that is expensive on the black market, or for rare ventilators.

The pleas are reaching tech-savvy engineers, lawyers, employees of nongovernmental organizations, politicians, doctors and even tuk-tuk drivers, who have mobilized online to help the sick, some of them hundreds of miles away. They have formed grass-roots networks that are stepping in where state and national governments have failed.

India’s loose online aid networks rely on tools and techniques commonly used in marketing and other forms of messaging on social media. Families tag people with large followings or specialized skills who might be able to amplify their messages, while volunteer organizers use keywords to filter the flood of requests.

Unmasked clubbers in Liverpool, England, returned to the dance floor as part of an experiment.
Credit…Carl Recine/Reuters

About 3,000 clubgoers were rammed up against each other inside a warehouse in Liverpool, England, on Friday night, waving their hands to techno music.

It was an attempt to see how reopening might work. Other trial events in Liverpool have included a concert for 5,000 fans in a circus tent and a business conference.

People had to show a proof of a negative test before they could enter the club on Friday. “This is the first dance,” Nick Evans, a 28-year-old legal adviser, shouted above the music. “And it could be the last dance, so I’m going to enjoy it,” he added.

In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that because of high vaccinations, he hoped to remove all restrictions on social life in England on June 21.

Some academics criticized the nights as “human guinea-pig experiments,” but Iain Buchan of the University of Liverpool, the scientist leading the trials, insisted Covid-19 rates in Britain were so low that the chances of an outbreak were slim.

Lucha Libre wrestlers wheeling patients inside a vaccination tent in Mexico City this month.
Credit…Alejandro Cegarra for The New York Times

In a bid to improve their customer service at vaccination centers, officials in Mexico City have cued up entertainment performances for those waiting for their shots.

Now people can watch operatic performances; large, bare-chested Lucha Libre wrestlers doing the limbo; and men performing tricks with a surprising number of soccer balls. They can join a yoga session, with women in white shirts leading the crowd.

The goal is to make the process as appealing as possible, a woman leading a song and dance performance said on a recent Wednesday.

“Put those little hands in the air!” she shouted to the older people in her care.

The effort is important given the alarming resurgence of the virus in Latin America and the sputtering vaccination efforts in many of its countries. Concerns have been compounded by the rapid spread of a virus variant first discovered in Brazil.

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